Maryland

Driver Dies in Frederick, Maryland Tanker Explosion, Family's Home Destroyed in Fire

The tanker truck overturned on U.S. Route 15 and exploded, killing the driver and damaging homes

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A tanker carrying flammable liquid exploded on U.S. Route 15 in Frederick, Maryland, Saturday, killing the driver and damaging nearby homes and cars. One family with children escaped the flames but lost their home.

U.S. Route 15 was closed for hours as firefighters battled the flames and a large brush fire and a hazmat team worked to contain a hazardous spill. Route 15 was back open by Sunday morning.

Frederick County Fire Chief Tom Coe said at a press conference that multiple calls came in for a house fire and vehicle explosion at the 500 block of Schley Avenue, near Rosemont Avenue, around noon.

The tanker truck crashed and overturned while carrying a flammable liquid and became completely engulfed in flames, Coe said. The explosion sent flames and heavy smoke into the surrounding area.

The name of the driver killed was not immediately released.

News4's Derrick Ward has details on how the deadly crash, which shut down U.S. 15, unfolded. News4's Solangi Sosa spoke to homeowners who saw the blaze, and News4's Brad Freitas reports from Chopper4.

Several homes and three cars on Apple Avenue caught fire as a result. There was also a large brush fire along the U.S. Route 15 corridor, authorities said.

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One of those homes was extensively damaged, and its residents are displaced.

Resident Mariano Hernandez said his home was destroyed. He heard the explosion, went outside and realized the flames had already spread over the side walls of his home.

“At that moment, I just thought about my children who were inside,” Hernandez said in Spanish. “I’m thankful to my neighbors behind me, who came to help and check if everyone was ok. They helped me get the children out.”

Video shows the home’s roof partially melted and the grass scorched.

Hernandez said the Red Cross came to help and offered them three nights at a hotel.

Two other houses received only minor damage, officials said. Officials initially said as many as six homes were damaged.

Three vehicles also caught fire, officials said. News4 video shows a trio of charred, apparently destroyed vehicles being taken away from the scene on flatbed trucks.

Nearby residents captured photos and videos of the tanker exploding and shared them on social media. Footage showed what appeared to be a fireball and a large plume of smoke shooting into the air.

Firefighters had the flames under control within 40 minutes, and the blaze was completely extinguished by the time the press conference began around 3:15 p.m.

No firefighters or people in the homes were injured, authorities said. The driver of the tanker was the only death.

The Montgomery County Fire Department was at the scene assisting Frederick County fire personnel.

In a statement, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said:

“My heart goes out to those affected by this tragedy in Frederick. I am in touch with County Executive Fitzwater, Mayor O'Connor, and the City of Frederick. The Maryland Department of the Environment, State Police, Office of the State Fire Marshal, and the Maryland Department of Transportation are on the scene of this tragic accident. We are continuing to monitor the situation closely.”

News4's Solangi Sosa has reaction from one family that now has to find somewhere else to stay.

The northbound lanes of U.S. Route 15 were closed between Route 50 and 7th Street for hours. The southbound lanes reopened just after 3 p.m.

The road cuts through the heart of Frederick, and residents are now concerned for their safety.

"If it wasn't for the tree that the truck hit, it would have been in somebody's house," one woman told News4. "There's not even a guardrail here."

There is no risk to the public at this time, now that the fire is out. The hazardous materials were contained before they reached Carroll Creek, Coe said.

Fire authorities said residue from the foam used to put out the flames is still in nearby Carroll Creek, but the foam used was environmentally friendly and did not contain any PFAS material.

Despite heavy winds in the area on Saturday, the wind did not complicate putting out the fire — the only complication, according to Coe, was the amount of flammable liquid in the truck.

The investigation continues as a crash investigation.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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